Industry Decoded: Jack Miller
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Brokers, are you focusing on the wrong agents? 

Superstars and stragglers might catch your attention, but agents in the middle — the slow-and-steady crowd — can supercharge your business, with some guidance.

February 10, 2024
4 minutes

Thinking big about residential real estate success requires a big-picture perspective. Industry Decoded features industry experts who can enrich your understanding of issues affecting the industry as a whole.

Conversations about real estate agents tend to focus on the edges: The rare heavyweights doing huge business or the numerous part-timers who may not have sold a house this month. Or last month. Or the month before.

I get it. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of dancing with the star agents, or worrying over the fact that — according to a recent report — more than two-thirds of agents surveyed logged five or fewer sales in the past year. Part-time agents, in particular, have been portrayed as a cause for concern as membership in the National Association of Realtors slides and the industry faces a tough market and legal challenges to the way agents get paid.

But the conversation about agents who sell a home or two each year leaving the industry is a distraction. For those folks, working in real estate isn't paying their mortgage or rent. They are working other jobs, retired and doing real estate on the side, or living with their parents and looking for their footing in any career.

If I were a managing broker right now, the agents I would be tuned into helping the most are the agents doing four to eight deals a year. These agents in the middle are more likely to be all in. They're using the money they make to put food on the table and pay their bills. They know how to do the job but need a little more support right now to make it through the lean times.

Specifically, I would:

  • Get them into training to help them do more effective personal prospecting and stay in touch with past clients and sphere.

  • Get them super dialed into the market stats in the areas where they work so they can educate their market and win the deals that help them pay the bills.

  • Organize group business generation activities, like neighborhood door knocking, lead follow up nights, and hands-on ways for them to touch possible clients.

These agents don't just need leads. They need guidance, mentorship and a fair and supportive  environment that helps them grow and succeed. Provide that, and you'll find yourself surrounded by agents who are more loyal, more interested in doing the work and less likely to argue about commission splits and fees.

You have an opportunity to elevate these agents from surviving in the middle to thriving as they move toward the top.

Meanwhile, the agents who have already found their path to the top will be fine. They will absorb transactions that the changing market throws their way, work their spheres and networks personally, and they will trim staff or unproductive people from their teams if they need to. The top agents already know what to do - and many of them are already doing it.

The part-timers? Some may leave the industry, but that's not something a busy broker can fix or should focus on. Others will stay and pay their dues, funding association and MLS salaries and infrastructure while remaining a part of a profession that means something to them. 

I would even make the case that in some situations, the no-pressure part-timer who has enough experience to confidently navigate a deal is the right fit for specific clients. But this is a longer, more philosophical conversation for another column.

In the meantime, as a brokerage leader, you can help strengthen your business and the industry as a whole by moving your focus away from the edges and closer to the middle, where stars can be born and careers can be made.

Jack Miller has held leadership roles in the real estate industry for over two decades and is currently CEO and president of T3 Sixty, one of real estate's leading management consultancies. (T3 Sixty founder Stefan Swanepoel also founded Real Estate News.) Jack also contributes to the Swanepoel Trends Report, writing about brokerage industry trends, technology in real estate and emerging business models. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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